The Davis Memorial Presbyterian Church resides at the corner of Davis Avenue and Sycamore Street. It is adjacent to the statue of Henry Gassaway Davis, also known as “The Iron Horse.”
Davis Memorial is a medieval-revival church built of a local granular conglomerate consisting of large, transparent quartz crystals bound in clay or silica. This beige stone is somewhat weathered, but is generally sound.
The building consists of nave, its roof divided into fourteen-foot bays and spanned by wood trusses, an engaged tower, and a secondary, gable-roofed structure located perpendicular to the nave at the rear of the church property. The structure has two porches.
The building was originally built in 1894 and 1895 after designs prepared by the Baltimore architect Charles E. Cassell. In 1921 an Akron plan Sunday School building was added to the north by Clarence L. Harding of Washington D.C.The style of the original structure was Gothic Revival complicated by Romanesque and eclectic influences, and the addition of 1921 was designed so as to be consonant with the original style and finish. The original church furniture was replaced in 1975.
One architecturally interesting feature of the building is the west window, five panels arranged in a unified composition. These either are the work of the Tiffany Studio or were built under Tiffany’s influence. They, and especially the central window in this five-part composition, rare plated and were composed of an unusually wide varity of glass types and colors.
The major changes in the building since 1921 have been replacing of the pews and chancel furniture and the restoration of the i i tile roof in 1983.
Architecturally, Davis Memorial Presbyterian Church belongs to the last phase of the nineteenth-century Gothic Revival, although the building also displays some influence of the Romanesque Revival. The church is not obviously related to the ecclesiastical Gothic of the pre-1865 period, but is, like most of the architecture of the nineties, eclectic to some degree.
Despite such stylistic ambiguities, the Davis Memorial Presbyterian Church is, with the Randolph County Courthouse, probably one of the finest medieval-revival buildings in the Potomac Highlands.
The social and religious importance of the building derives from its status as the parish church of of the culturally dominant Presbyterians, and as the memorial gift of Henry G. and Thomas B. Davis, wealthy New Yorkers interested in the development of Elkins and resident in the town during summer months.
In late-eighteenth-century Virginia, Presbyterianism was the quasi-established faith of a prosperous majority, descended for the most part from the Scotch-Irish who had immigrated to the Valley beginning about 1745.
The architectural quality, placement within the town—at the intersection of the main thoroughfare and the road that led to the Davis house (Graceland) and the Elkins house (Halliehurst)—and relatively expensive finishes and appointments of the church building image the cultural status of the congregation